Life behind Mental Illness

PhotographerWinifred Chiocchia
Prize2nd Place in Editorial / Photo Essay and Feature Story
City/CountryTorino, Italy
Photo DateSeptember 2014 / January 2015
Technical InfoCanon 5D Mark III, 35mm/50mm
Entry Description

The series of pictures documents life at Bădiceni’s Psycho-neurological Boarding House, an Institute whose buildings are located in Moldova, a few kilometers from the nearest vilage of Bădiceni. The complex houses more than 400 patients, approximately 50 per cent women and 50 per cent men, all affected by different mental and physical disorders. Between the most common are: epilepsy, schizophrenia, paralysis and more. The origin of the patients differs from case to case, most of them were sent under medical commission after staying until the age of majority into institutes which were very similar, but specific for children. Others, were brought by families too poor to assist them, or simply came after the death of all parents. Every patient has its own sad story.The staff does everything possible to assist with serious attention, love and dedication all the people, but the number of workers allocated by the Ministry is very small compared to what would be necessary.Most patients, once entered the institute, stay in it until death. There are men and women who live at the Boarding House since 30 years. While staying at the Boarding House I spent time with the patients, following their daily life, realizing how hard it could be and observing at the same time, how strong were human relations developed between them.

About Photographer

I revealed my interest in Photography in 2011. In the same year, thanks to the win of a scholarship, I managed to attend the academic Diploma in Photography and Visual Arts at the European Institute for Design in Turin, graduating with honors in 2014. I was always fascinated by people stories, engaged with their energies and atmospheres. Since I was a child, I always had the desire of listen to and understand the lives of others, I constantly tried to identify myself with people to better grasp their feelings. Today, I try to witness and share stories and facts through the description of humans’ intimate feelings, trying to portray both the action and the ‘atmosphere’ of the moment in which people are involved in. I strongly believe in empathy as the most powerfull way of communication and, when I want to tell a story, I start doing it by establishing relations of empathy with the people who are part of the story itself.